Upon Israel's waging a successful battle against the Philistines, Samuel set up a stone to commemorate their victory and mark where it occurred, calling the name of it Ebenezer, saying, "Hitherto has the LORD helped us" (1 Samuel 7:12). The prophet's object was twofold:
First, by his action, he erected a visible and permanent memorial of the overthrow of their enemy, for that stone was designed to keep that notable event before the mind of the Nation.
Second, by his words, Samuel expressed his own deep gratitude and placed the honor where it rightfully belonged, acknowledging that things had fared very differently with Israel, had not Jehovah come to their aid. At an earlier date, the Lord had wrought gloriously for His people, "They soon forgot his works" (Psa 106:13).
Such is the deplorable tendency with all of us. How often do we give him occasion to say, "Do you not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets you took up?" (Mat 16:9)!
Upon the completion of twenty-five years' editing and publishing of this magazine, we feel that we cannot do less than gratefully raise our Ebenezer and thankfully own the Lord's abounding goodness and mercy unto us. As we review the difficulties surmounted, the amount of work accomplished, the thousands of pounds God has sent in answer to prayer, the tight corners out of which we were delivered, we can but exclaim, "This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvelous in our eyes" (Psa 118:23).
The limited space at our disposal does not permit us to give anything like a complete account of God's many gracious interpositions; we can but make a brief selection from the wondrous ways in which He has constantly undertaken for us. Nor is this an easy task, for it obliges us to make far more reference unto ourselves than we like to do. Our sole purpose therein is to magnify God's enabling grace, to testify unto His unchanging faithfulness, to demonstrate that only by His help could we have maintained this ministry; and this, in order that our Christian friends may be encouraged and their hearts drawn out to unite with us in praising Him who alone "does great things" (Job 5:9).
After twelve years in the pastorate, the Lord called us into Bible conference work, traveling almost all over the U.S.A., holding special meetings in many of its principal churches, preaching frequently to from one to two thousand people, and at times, lecturing before one hundred preachers.
By 1921, seven of our books and numerous booklets had appeared in print, when our publisher urged us to start a monthly magazine. Having already written so much, that seemed no small order, but after spreading the matter before the Lord, and upon our publisher agreeing to look after the clerical side of the work, together we launched forth. That first year, the Lord gave us just over one thousand subscribers, and we closed with a small credit balance.
Toward the close of the second year, our partner resigned at a time when we were much exercised over the virtual cessation of preaching engagements, for we were made to prove that "he who increases knowledge, increases sorrow" (Ecc 1:18) our messages meeting with less acceptance by professing Christians. Neither myself nor my wife had any experience of typing, and living in a village where no typist could be hired, it looked as though the magazine would have to close down; and, shame upon himself, the writer had no hope to the contrary, and was in complete despair.
But in His grace and mercy, the Lord wrought faith and hope in his wife, and as the result of her noble efforts, we moved from that village to the city of Philadelphia. There, the Lord had moved a young couple to whom we were almost strangers to open their home to us until we could get suitably located, the wife typing our articles and giving Mrs. Pink a few pointers, until after a while, she was able to take over. It was a most signal interposition of the Lord on our behalf: such an evident token He would have us continue with this printed ministry that from then until now, the editor's faith has never wavered that God would supply all our need.
At the beginning of 1925, the Lord indicated that He would have the editor engage in oral ministry in Australia, though we were acquainted with only one person there, with whom we had exchanged but a couple of letters. To respond unto that leading of Providence presented a task of no small dimensions; yes, one utterly beyond our own unaided powers. But again, God helped us in a manifest manner, enabling us to get sufficiently ahead with our work so as to provide the American printer with enough manuscript for four issues, and our good friend in Philadelphia kindly undertook to address all envelopes and mail out the copies.
Though almost wrecked on the voyage, the Lord landed us safely in Sydney, where we spent three and a half of our happiest and busiest years, preaching five and six times every week often in great heat. To write so many articles for the Studies at that time and attend to all the correspondence necessitated our working most nights until 2 A.M., but the Lord sustained us, and we suffered no ill effects.
When God made it clear that the work for which He took us to Australia was finished, the editor felt it his duty to visit his aged parents, whom he had not seen for thirteen years, hoping he might be permitted to settle in England. Only one who has carried the entire responsibility of editing and publishing a monthly magazine can appreciate what it involves to arrange for it to be printed without any hiatus and for each issue to arrive promptly in the hands of its readers during a move from one side of the world to the other to say nothing of packing and transferring a huge library such a distance.
Our stay in England lasted but a few months, for though the Baptists and the Presbyterians would have opened their pulpits had we joined their denomination and the "Brethren" given us a welcome were we prepared to restrict ourselves to their circle; yet, because we felt the Lord would have us remain outside the camp and be free to mingle with His people at large, every door was closed against us.
At the time, it was a sore trial; but today, we are thankful to have been kept apart "from the strife of tongues" (Psa 31:20). In the first half of 1929, the "pillar of cloud" moved toward the U.S.A.; and once more, the arduous task of packing, a long and difficult journey, and transferring of the publication of the Studies from one country to another was undertaken. Yet again, the Lord's gracious help failed us not; rough places were made smooth, assistance was rendered from unexpected quarters, health and strength given for the taxing undertaking, and the magazines all posted to the readers without any break or even delay.
But other trials awaited us, for we found that those who had run well twelve years previously did so no longer; and instead of enjoying happy fellowship with them we were a thorn in their sides.
We were reminded anew that "here have we no continuing city" (Heb 13:14), first having to move all our effects a distance of over two thousand miles, and later, on a distance of nearly three thousand; yet those wanderings provided opportunities for us to sow the Seed in widely separated places.
Soon after our arrival in the U.S.A., there occurred one of the greatest financial collapses that ever struck that country, being followed by an acute and protracted industrial depression, which so seriously affected the nation that for some years, there were upwards of ten million workers out of employment and without any "dole." During those years, our faith was put to the severest test it had encountered; we were firmly resolved to cease publishing, rather than contract any debt, and so were kept on our faces before Jehovah-jireh (Gen 22:14), looking to Him for the needed funds. Nor did He fail us; though more than once after promptly paying our printer's bill, we were left with only a few shillings in hand.
1930 was our most trying year: on the morning of Nov. 30th (the day our financial year closes), we lacked $1:75; and there was nothing in the post! There was an afternoon delivery, though it scarcely ever brought us anything; but that afternoon, there was one letter, and it had $3 in it, so we closed with a credit balance. Of course we did: God never confounds those who confidently rely upon Him!
In the autumn of 1934, we returned to Great Britain, where we were now virtually strangers the editor having spent almost all of the previous twenty-five years in other lands, and his wife being a Kentuckian. We had not a single Christian relative or old friend in the British Isles. During the next two years, we moved twice a distance of five hundred miles on each occasion before we settled down in Hove, where we were privileged to continue our devotions and studies in peace, and permitted to publish the magazine without strain; yet not without those trials and exercises of heart which God sees are so necessary for our discipline.
The world over, spiritual conditions were deteriorating and as the apostasy of Christendom developed, the number of those who really desired solid food for their souls steadily diminished; and though the Lord gave us messages for our articles month by month, and caused the donations to come in so freely that we were spared any financial anxiety yet our mailing list continued to shrink, until it reached the place where it appeared that we would soon be no longer justified in publishing for such a handful.
Today, we regard it as far from being the least of those ways in which the Lord has helped us, that, all through these years, He has continued to prepare sufficient hearts to receive His messages via our pen especially in view of the fact that the last decade has witnessed one of the worst declensions Christendom has suffered for centuries. As a private person, having no ecclesiastical connections, without any denomination or organization behind him and during those years, cut off from any oral ministry (where we used to meet those who welcomed spiritual literature) we have had to look entirely to the Lord and beg Him to bring us into touch with hungry souls, and move our readers to introduce the Studies to the notice of their Christian associates.
A few kind friends co-operated; others sought to, but were unsuccessful; the majority appeared indifferent. Each year, a number were called Home, and others dropped out because displeased by our teaching; yet new ones were provided to replace them.
During 1940, we were tried in a different manner. Residing in Hove (which adjoins Brighton), part of "The Battle of Britain" was fought right over our heads, for we were only ten minutes air distance from France, where the German squadrons were assembled, and from which it was expected our coast would be invaded by their army. We lay in the direct route of the enemy bombers as they came to and from London, passing over us nightly: the warning siren was sounded at 9 or 10 p.m., and the "all clear" not until 4 to 6 a.m. An occasional one unloaded his devilish freight on Hove.
At that time, there was no "shelter" within reach, and Hove had no anti-aircraft guns. The house in which we resided was a Jerry-built one, incapable of resisting blast or incendiaries. On July 1st, our bedroom was machine-gunned from the air, so from July 2nd to Sept. 20th, both of us spent every night lying fully dressed on the hall-floor downstairs. Yet the whole of the second half of Vol. 19 was composed and typed out during those months, and a heavy correspondence attended to! Did not the Lord "help" us!
But it seems to the writer the most remarkable way in which the Lord has helped us has been in supplying the necessary Seed for the sower. Scores of the first subscribers are still on our list, and at least one hundred have received 20 out of the 25 volumes. It is therefore no small order to continue writing four or five articles each month, year after year, for the same readers.
During this quarter of a century, almost 7,000 pages have come from our pen, comprising no less than 1,700 articles of varying lengths, averaging four pages each. Among them have been the following:
on John's Gospel, 72 articles;
on Exodus, 72; on Hebrews, 127;
the Sermon on the Mount, 65;
the Life of David, 96;
the Life of Elijah, 36;
the Life of Elisha, 30.
Doctrinal articles have been on:
The Atonement, 24;
Impotency of Man, 24;
Perseverance of Saints, 26;
The Divine Covenants, 50;
The Antichrist, 22;
Union and Communion, 25;
The Law, 21;
The Sabbath, 19;
Profiting from the Word, 10;
the Attributes of God, 24 articles;
on the Glories of Christ, 41;
on The Person and Work of the Spirit, 65;
on The Heart, 10;
Spiritual Growth, 30;
Prayer, 20; and
The Prayers of the Apostles, (to date) 36.
That is only a list of series, though bare figures cannot convey any idea of the immense amount of work involved in preparing, nor my dear wife's in typing them out amid her domestic duties. Many scores of others were written and typed some on long train-journeys, others while crossing oceans. During those years, the editor was permitted to write by hand well over 20,000 letters.
Now, dear reader, have we not abundant cause to raise our Ebenezer and joyfully acknowledge, "Hitherto has the LORD helped us" (1 Samuel 7:12)! And will not all Christian friends give thanks unto Him for His goodness especially that by His sustaining power, not a single article was ever delayed by sickness, nor a bill left unpaid twenty-four hours. Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised.
The future is in the hand of Him whose we are and whom we serve. We know not what a day may bring forth, nor do we desire to. If the God of all grace has ordained this little monthly messenger shall be continued a season be it long or short neither man nor devil can prevent its publication, until His purpose is fulfilled. If He deigns to make further use of our unworthy pen in seeking to expose empty professors, encourage seeking sinners, comfort mourners, strengthen feeble knees, stir unto a closer and more obedient walk with God, and endeavor to lead some of His people into a better-balanced apprehension of His Truth then, providing we earnestly seek fresh supplies of grace and Christian friends continue to hold up our hands by prayer without a shadow of doubt, the requisite strength and wisdom will be given us, needed funds sent in, sufficient readers supplied, and our Printer moved to continue printing for us.
We are very sorry that several of this year's issues were so late, and that the September and October ones were unusually delayed; and we thank our friends for being so patient in refraining from writing to inquire the reason why their copies had not arrived. Our Printers wrote us on October 18th: "We have not been able to obtain the necessary paper as heretofore. License and order for the paper have now been in for almost four months, but conditions are very bad; in fact, they are worse than in 1940."
May we make two comments upon this:
First, possibly the Lord has permitted the delays to bring home to our friends in the U.S.A. just how bad conditions are in Great Britain.
Second, to make clear the need of definite and united prayer that God will provide our Printers with everything needful for the "Studies."
May we also point out that in these days when so many "workers" have become shirkers, our Printers (like many other business firms) are heavily handicapped by absenteeism. Moreover, they are printing this magazine as a favor to us, as an old and privileged customer and not for any profit they make from the work, for the job is too small, and the special price they make is too low (though we now pay them double the amount we did in 1910) to allow them scarcely any margin. Hence, there are times when our little monthly may justly be shelved for a week or two while they work on a more important order.
In the past, those who had sent us a donation for the year were warranted to expect their copies to arrive promptly. But conditions have sadly deteriorated, and the reader should no longer complacently assume his copies will arrive in due course. He needs to pray for God to make it possible for each issue to be printed! Nor do we expect things to improve, or conditions become easier: rather, the reverse. But if in the course of the year, the reader receives all twelve issues even though at irregular intervals he should be grateful. Many are praying for the editor and for God's blessing on this work, for which we are deeply thankful. Now the time has come for them to also supplicate God that He will continue giving our Printers a heart to do this work and supply them with labor and paper.
Delay will not be our fault. The whole of the first six copies for 1947 are now ready for the Printers, and the January and February issues are already in their hands. But let not even English readers expect to receive them earlier than late February. The 1946 bound volume will be available D.V. for $1.75 post paid, though probably not much before March 1st.
If it be the good pleasure of our God that this printed ministry go on a while longer as some hundreds of our readers ardently desire and as we certainly hope it may then doubtless further trials and testings await us. But if we seek grace to endure, and the Lord deigns to sanctify them unto us, we shall be the gainers, and not the losers. He changes not, and His faithfulness and goodness to us in the past is a sure earnest of His continued loving-kindness. The more difficult things are for any of us the better opportunity do they afford to prove the sufficiency of our God.
O that to the mercies of the past quarter of a century this favor too may be granted: that if permitted to publish, at the close of each remaining year, we may be able to raise a fresh Ebenezer. And when the hour of departure from this scene arrives, may we be found still leaning on the everlasting arms as we are conducted to that Place where we shall behold the King in His beauty and exclaim, "Worthy is the Lamb!" (Rev 5:12).
With hearty Christian greeting, yours by Divine Mercy,
Arthur and Vera Pink